Rage On

Yesterday I was doing a bike ride out on the roads west of Sacramento. It’s
intensely personal time: no radio, no iPod, just time for focus on
what it feels like to be working hard, engaged with my Felt 75,
keeping the cadence up above 90, feeling the road, the wind, and
engaged with my own internal dialog. It’s a hallowed time for me in
which the disparate parts of my consciousness get their say.

I couldn’t get Virginia Tech out of my mind.

It seems to me that we live in a culture on the edge of rage. A poorly
chosen word, a brief angry gesture on the freeway, a thoughtless
profanity and the next minute events can take a leap to the wild side
in a way that’s simply not sane.

There’s a discipline that seeks to take the ideas and concepts of
psychotherapy and apply them to organizations: families, businesses,
perhaps even to nations and cultures. I don’t know the name of this
discipline but it seems to me that someone should take OUR culture and
lead it into the therapist’s office for a nice introductory session
and then some intense talk therapy.

What we need is an intervention.

I know this rage is real because I experience it. I think we all do.
You’re in a crowded parking lot leaving Arco and some guy weaves
through the cars, crowding in, taking every advantage even when there
isn’t one to take, pushing you out of the way because HE is entitled.
Or a thoughtless driver on a cell phone, driving through the
supermarket parking lot nearly nails you because that phone
conversation was so much more important than driving a two-ton machine
safely. That’s what lead to what the media so cleverly call “road

But there are other forms that also steal away our inner peace. Talk
radio thrives by generating rage. It’s the whole medium’s raison
d’être: to make people FEEL something and the easiest thing to make
people feel is outrage and anger. Let it be “us vs them”. We’re
ENTITLED. We need RESPECT. Of course forgetting that you must grant
respect as well as receive it.

I’m a creature of the ’60s. I was in college until I won the draft
lottery in 1970. I lay some of this rage at the feet of everyone in
the 60s who engaged in violent protest and who banished a certain
social decorum, now is so far gone that most college kids think the
use of profanity in public is perfectly natural and a proper form of
discourse. Reading a blog these days that isn’t punctuated by your
basic four letter words is all too rare.

I submit that it’s a kind of violence. It’s language used to provoke.
If it’s an expression of anger then we’re a very very angry culture.
We’re a culture that thinks a great television ad, shown for the first
time during the Super Bowl, involves playing rock-paper-scissors to
win a beer where the winner assaults the other person by hitting him
in the head with a rock! Ha ha. I’m not laughing. Not any more. It’s
rage acted out as a part of product sales. And we’re eating it up.

As I was thinking about this on my ride I found my speed slowing down
as the anger built. My own rage about rage. I focused on getting my
cadence back up, felt the rage seep away, felt back in balance again.
There’s a reason I don’t listen to talk radio, turn away from
profanity, work hard to find that “Zen of driving”, engage with an
Oath of Peace that seeks to get the maximum effect from the least
amount of hurt possible. It’s very difficult. It doesn’t involve
revenge and expression of anger. It seeks to understand anger and work
toward action to eliminate its cause. Which involves inner-dialog,
engagement, and respect.

1 Comment so far

  1. Gary Reed (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 5:37 pm

    This post is being considered for The Sacramento Bee’s roundup of regional blogs, which appears Sunday in Forum.

    The Blog Watch column is limited to about 800 words. Blog posts included in the column are often trimmed to fit. The blog’s main address will appear in The Bee, and the online copy of the article will contain links to the actual blog post.

    If you have questions (or you DON’T want your blog post considered for inclusion in the newspaper column), contact me at greed@sacbee.com

    Gary Reed
    Forum Editor

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